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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Does Personality Affect Drug Abuse?

Many different factors can contribute to drug abuse. Some researchers believe people may have an addictive personality, which makes them more vulnerable to abuse. Are some people more susceptible to addiction? What makes one "susceptible to addiction"? To understand that, we must realize what all drugs (including alcohol, which is a drug) have in common. Drugs are basically pain killers. They kill physical and emotional pain. A person may start using drugs or alcohol to numb pain, leading to addiction. Stress, losing a loved one, physical injury, illness, or even boredom cause many people intense pain. So pain can make anyone "susceptible to addiction." False information is also a contributing factor to susceptibility. Today, the idea that everything can be fixed with a pill is widely promoted. Everything from headaches to active children are treated with substances touted to safe and non-habit forming. A caution here: attempting to diagnose a drug addiction by anyone but a professional is both ineffective and potentially dangerous. This information is, by no means, complete, and the post is informational. In general, these traits seem most likely to contribute to an addictive personality:
  • Aggressive
  • Impulsive
  • Sensitive
  • Emotional
  • Anxious
  • Lonely
The addictive personality is sometimes described as an anti-social personality. A person with anti-social personality traits lives life in search of continuous gratification. These people may engage in reckless behaviors such as excessive gambling, overeating, and risky sexual behavior. It is notable that writers, actors, musicians, and other people working in creative industries appear to have frequent problems with addiction? For example, Edgar Allen Poe, Allen Ginsberg, Beethoven, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson... the list of these people who have documented issues with alcoholism and drug abuse goes on and on. Although some would claim drugs make people more creative, a more logical explanation for the link between creativity and addiction is that people who exhibit the traits of an addictive personality tend to be drawn toward creative occupations. Also, since creative people often live their lives in the public eye, their struggles with addiction simply receive more media attention than the problems of an average person. Of course, the drug abuse itself can have its own effect on the addict’s personality. Such drug cravings stem from drug residues accumulated and stored in the user's fatty tissue due to earlier drug use. Drug residues can mobilize due to stress, physical activity, weight loss, etc. and get back into the blood stream, triggering physical cravings. (www.friendsofnarconon.org) A person struggling with drug addiction is often described as:
  • Withdrawn
  • Secretive
  • Irritable
  • Apathetic
  • Reckless
  • Disrespectful
  • Moody
New research by Professor Annalena Venneri of the University of Hull has opened speculation that scientists may one day find out what a child's personality will be like by simply scanning the brain. The discovery raises the startling possibility of being able to discover a young child’s future personality by analysing the shape of their brain. The four main personality types were classified by psychiatrists as "novelty-seeking, harm avoidance, reward dependence and persistence." (Daily Mail, April 2009) The research suggests that children are born with certain personalities and also indicates that their brain develops differently depending on the type of person they become. Scholarly Interpretation The most popular contemporary view of why humans self-administer potentially lethal drugs is that these chemicals activate the reinforcement system in the brain. This system is normally activated by natural reinforcers such as food, water, sex etc. (McKim, 1997) A more thorough investigation of all the models is presented at the website www.flyfishingdevon.co.uk.
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